By: Shannon Ralph
There are many things my partner and I considered before becoming parents. There are many situations for which we prepared. Many anticipated questions for which we concocted answers. Many scenarios we envisioned in our minds. What would we do if our child was bullied for having two moms? How would we handle school issues? What are we going to do about church? How do we explain sperm donors and artificial insemination? How are we going to present ourselves to our friends and families? What will we say when our kids ask why they do not have a dad like their friends? All of these issues were given at least cursory thought and discussion before we had children. Some were discussed ad nauseum. There is one issue, however, that we never saw coming.
What do a couple of lesbians do with a nine-year-old boy in a public restroom?
This issue came to the forefront during our recent travels when we found ourselves in numerous public restrooms—some more sanitary than others.
My son, Nicholas, just turned six years old and is a peanut. Small for his age. He happily and without argument uses the women’s restroom with his mommies and his twin sister. Until recently, he had no problem going in the same stall with one of us. He now insists on his own stall, but has never once balked about using the women’s facilities. And no one seems to mind him being there because he is just this cute, dimpled little kid.
My son, Lucas, is a different story. He has always used the women’s restroom, as well. Perhaps we were overprotective new moms, but there was no way in hell we were going to allow our firstborn baby to go into a public restroom full of men we did not know. One only needs to turn on the evening news to know that perverts and weirdos abound in this world. Lucas does not have a dad to shield him in the men’s room, so he has always gone to the women’s restroom with his mommies. It has never been an issue. Until now.
Lucas is nine years old and relatively tall for his age. In all actuality, he looks like he is twelve. As you can imagine, he looks and feels out of place in the women’s restroom. He stands there with his arms crossed, shuffling his feet, eyes averted, obviously anxious to get the hell out. Though other moms, for the most part, do not seem to question his presence in the women’s room, I have noticed lately that young girls often give him strange sideways glances. Looks that say without a doubt that he is trespassing in their territory.
So we should just send him to the men’s room, right? I am not sure. Lucas is an incredibly friendly little boy. Friendly to a fault. Despite our discussions about Stranger Danger, he is one of these kids who will just talk to anyone and everyone. I have no trouble whatsoever imagining some strange man striking up a conversation with Lucas as they are standing at side-by-side urinals. I have no doubt Lucas would talk to him. It would probably be harmless. But, then again…..?
I realize that he is growing up and, at some point we are going to have to trust him alone in a public restroom. At what age, however? Is an overly friendly nine-year-old boy safe in a men’s room? I would like to think so. In a perfect world, our children would be safe anywhere. Right? But this is not a perfect world. I have no doubt that most men in public restrooms have no motives other than doing their business and getting out. And most of those men would never ever think of harming a child. A large percentage of them are probably parents themselves. But….all it takes is one.
Am I overprotective? Am I over-thinking the whole situation? Am I completely ruining my sons for any women they may one day hope to marry? Am I a crazy, helicopter momma whose sons will never grow to be independent, productive adults? Will my sons be living in my basement when they are thirty? Will I be doing their laundry and serving their stoner friends pizza rolls? Will their greatest accomplishments in life be saving the princess at the end of Super Mario Brothers?
I am beginning to wonder.